IRVING, Texas – Rob Ryan is too honest to sell a line of bull about the starting cornerback jobs being open to competition.
Brandon Carr, who started every game the last four seasons for the Chiefs, was a Cowboys starter by the time the ink was dry on his five-year, $50.1 million contract. And Morris Claiborne was a starter the second the Cowboys packaged their top two draft picks to get him.
The politically correct thing to say is that Claiborne, who can’t practice until training camp because he’s recovering from wrist surgery, has to earn the role. But the Dallas defensive coordinator doesn’t do politically correct.
“Obviously, this guy’s a unique talent,” Ryan said. “We didn’t move up in the draft to get a guy that’s not going to play. We’ve got an outstanding guy here.”
In other words, Mike Jenkins lost his starting job this offseason. Not that Jenkins, who is exercising his right to avoid voluntary workouts at Valley Ranch, wasn’t well aware of that.
If (or when) Jenkins rejoins the Cowboys, the reality is that he’ll be competing with Orlando Scandrick for the third cornerback role. And it’d be a mistake to assume that Scandrick has the edge because of the five-year, $27 million contract extension he signed last summer.
If Scandrick has an edge, it’s because he has significant experience playing in the slot. Jenkins, who wants a new contract now but will have to wait until March to enter free agency, can increase his value by proving that he’s versatile enough to play in the slot.
It’s also possible that Carr or Claiborne could move inside when the Cowboys use three corners, something Terence Newman did for much of his career.
The Cowboys will get their best corners on the field, and it’s already assumed that the rookie ranks among their top two.